The Zhuhai National Park is located 40 km from Chishui City, in Guizhou province, South-West China. The 10,000 hectares park is characterized by the unique presence of the so-called Bamboo Sea (Phyllostachys Pubescence), which constitutes the main tourist attraction.
The local culture and tourism department decided to establish the Zhuhai National Park, together with a landscape project, in order to promote a different kind of tourism, able to enhance awareness about the protection of the original landform and autochthonous species. The park aims to have a strong educational significance, to create awareness and to preserve the unique environment. Architects used the local limited available technologies with consciousness and deep respect of the bamboo forest.
The project covers an overall landscape area of 22,000 sqm, of the 10,000 hectares which comprises the park. The built area is 514 sqm, which is comprehensive or the entire boardwalk system. The program includes the main entrance to the National Park, a tea pavilion together with a larger landscape project which involves flying boardwalks through the bamboo forest, which allow visitors to experience the forest without affecting the environment.
The park main entrance has been designed as a dense assembly of vertical lines. The idea was to create, in the middle of the forest, a denser cluster, which can be randomly intercepted in the bamboo sea. The gate is hidden in the Bamboo Sea and interacts with the particular and various weather conditions of the area (sun, thick fog, rain, wind and snow) which make the architecture unstable and flexible. The gate aims to 'activate' the bamboo being at the same time hidden into the forest but also creating an iconic entrance for the park.
The main entrance is characterized by a bamboo skin, which makes it embedded into the forest, thanks to its design, made of a dense assembly of vertical lines. The support system is made of concrete with bamboo (10cm diameter - 11m length) hung on the roof. Even with the presence of the glass roof, which protects the bamboo from rain, architects had to deal with problems of high humidity and fluctuations in temperature, which characterize the area of Chishui. Because of the presence of oil inside, a mixture of water and sugar, the bamboo has been steam-treated to take out the oil and avoid decay. Since the local equipment only allows the bamboo to be steamed to a maximum length of 6m, it must be divided in two parts, 5.5m each. The two 5.5m pieces of bamboo have been connected by hand-made galvanized metal joints, which became a characteristic mark in the main entrance gate’s facade. Architects elaborated a whole system, from the steaming treatment to the joint design, in order to create the possibility of recycling the bamboo pieces, which can easily be dismantled, moved, replaced and reused somewhere else.
The elevated boardwalks are supported by a red fair-faced concrete structure. The paving is made of anticorrosive bamboo plywood and the railings are made of rust-proof black metal. After the Tea Pavilion the path becomes steep, mainly made by steps, to bring visitors up to the mountain. The two buildings and the boardwalks system are constructed to maximize the protection of the local natural environment; tourists can appreciate the unique characteristics of the bamboo sea without damaging the forest.
A natural water pond, under the main entrance gate, collects rain water and spring water. The pond was originally a big pit, which has been paved with cow dung and soil to prevent water loss. Cow dung also helps maintain the biological environment by providing nutrients.
The pond helps create fog due to the differing temperatures, especially in the early morning and sunset or during winter and rainy days. When sun and fog happen at the same time the gate looks completely embedded into the Bamboo Sea. The architecture is based on a full understanding of the character of the Bamboo Sea and aims to play with weather elements.